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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Barcelona's Neymar can be Lionel Messi's heir, insists Ronaldo

Brazil legend Ronaldo has backed Neymar to one day be the "heir" to Lionel Messi's throne, and confessed he sees a bit of himself in the former Santos forward.

Neymar helped lead Barcelona to an historic Treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles last season, finishing joint-top scorer in Europe's top club competition along the way.

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Though he struggled in his first season at the Camp Nou, the Brazil captain has since flourished with the Blaugrana and has been tipped by many to be a future Ballon d'Or winner.

The 24-year-old Brazilian finished third in the voting for the 2015 award, which Messi won for a record fifth time, and countryman Ronaldo believes the Barca No. 11 has everything needed to match the Argentine at the top of the game someday.

"I like Neymar a lot. He is a bit like me," Ronaldo told Calciomercato on Friday.

"He had some difficulties in getting used to his new environment at first, but I knew that he was going to succeed.

Lionel Messi and Neymar finished first and third in the Ballon d'Or voting.

"Can he be Messi's heir? Yes, he has everything he needs to become as strong as him."

Ronaldo spent a sensational year at Barcelona before moving to Inter Milan and eventually signing with Real Madrid, where he partnered with current Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane.

Since taking over for Rafa Benitez in December, the Frenchman has won six out of his first seven games in charge, including their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie against Roma on Wednesday, and Ronaldo fancies his former teammates chances to taste European glory this year.

"Everybody knows that Zizou is a great friend. I really hope that he will have a great career as a coach too," Ronaldo said. "He's the best player with whom I have ever played with. We had a lot of fun on the pitch.

"Could this be Real Madrid's year? Yes, they must focus on the Champions League, they have everything to succeed. Winning at Roma was very important for Zidane."

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